The electrical airliner Elis, made by the Israel-Singapore-U.S. company “Eviation”, successfully lifted off on Tuesday in its maiden voyage.
The aircraft climbed to a height of 3,500 feet, and remained airborne for eight minutes before landing.
Small electrical aircraft have already flown around the world, but Elis is the first developed and built as an electric airliner.
Eviation was founded in 2015 by Aviv Tzidon and Omer Bar-Yohai. In 2019, the Singapore-based Clermont group purchased 70% of the company’s shares, and raised $200 million in funding.
The Elis airliner is intended for local flights, fitting nine passengers and two crew members. It could also serve as a private or cargo plane. The aircraft can fly a span of 830 km (515 miles) with speeds of up to 460 kmph (286 miles per hour), and carry a weight of up to 1.1 tons.
Elis has two engines with 850 horse-power each, and batteries of 900 kilowatt-hour, the same as 15 standard electrical vehicles. The batteries constitute 60% of the aircraft weight during liftoff, limiting its distance to travel.
Eviation’s research and development center operates in Israel, but the initial flights will be in the U.S. in order to ease the process of approval by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. The company’s assembly line is also expected to be situated in the U.S..
So far 127 letters declaring interest in purchasing the aircraft, were received by Eviation, mainly from American airliners and the DHL delivery company. The price of the aircraft stands at $4 million.
“We’ve waiting for this day for seven years, and the first ever Zionist-electrical aircraft finally took off,” Tzidon said on Tuesday. “Seven years ago, we had an idea and went through much in the interim. Israel did has not shown an interest in the aircraft’s production, so we relocated it to the U.S,” he said.
"We had 30 employees when we moved, today we have over a 100. Unlike other companies, we did not convert an fuel engine, but built one from scratch, like Tesla," he said.
"Since we are the first company to do so, we consulted with the Federal Aviation Administration in order expedite licensing, which is critical for a new company,” he said.
Most of Eviation’s management today is American, but its chief engineer, Lior Zivon is from Israel and former IDF Airforce Chief and Chief of staff - Danny Halutz is on the company's board of directors.
Despite of its limited flight range, Elis should be suitable for most local commercial flights in the U.S., and can offer much lower operating expenses compared to other aircraft of its kind, even up to 75% less, according to the company’s data.
Batteries should suffice for 3,000 hours of flight, then replaced at a cost of $250,000, half of the cost of regular aircraft maintenance after a similar amount to flight time.